OSAKA--Up to 400,000 people could die in a long-expected earthquake along the Nankai Trough southwest of Tokyo, according to the head of a government group working on countermeasures.
“The possible quake could cause a variety of damages in extremely wide areas,” Yoshiaki Kawata, a professor of disaster prevention systems at Kansai University, said at a seminar on July 6 in Osaka held by the Kinki Bureau of Telecommunications.
The Nankai Trough stretches southwest from an area in the Pacific Ocean south of Shizuoka Prefecture.
The central government in 2003 estimated the death toll from an earthquake along the Nankai Trough at about 25,000. At a news conference after a meeting of the working group in May, Kawata’s estimate was 300,000 lives lost.
On July 6, however, he increased the figure by 100,000 in light of the devastation caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake last year.
The number of dead or missing people from the quake and tsunami, which occurred in the afternoon in northern Japan on March 11, 2011, stands at about 19,000.
If the quake had hit at midnight, the number of the victims could have reached 63,000, Kawata said.
The population in areas expected to be damaged by the Nankai Trough earthquake is 6.3 times larger than that of the Tohoku region areas hit by the disaster last year.
Kawata said a Nankai Trough earthquake that takes place in the daytime could kill about 120,000 people, but if it occurs at midnight, up to 400,000 could die.
“At present, we are studying the possible damages in detail. The figure, 400,000, is just my estimate. But it is not unreasonably high,” he said.
In late August, the working group will announce the results of its studies on possible damage from the quake.
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